At about 8a EDT on Sunday, August 30 Gene and his friend Nina began their trip west to their new homes!
Gene’s luxury accommodations for his VERY long trip west! Pennsylvania really does look lovely this time of year, especially when compared to the inferno that is Texas in August.
We were SO very fortunate to connect with a fellow Chincoteague Pony owner who happens to live within 30 miles of me and already had a trip back east scheduled with an empty trailer! She offered to bring Gene back to Texas for us and another future Oklahoma resident joined the trip. It was probably good they were travel buddies, it would likely have been a much more stressful trip for a baby pony to make alone.
Gene’s drivers stopped many times along the way to allow the foals to stretch their road weary legs, drink water and grab a bite to eat. They evidently turned their hay into their bedding! Chincoteague Ponies are known to be good drinkers, which is SO good especially for foals on a long road trip. These kids drank lots of water and never went off their feed.
Gene napping at a stop. Nina never laid down the entire trip. Poor girl!
I can imagine how exhausted A and M were after 30 hours of traveling. They arrived at my gate at almost exactly 2p on Monday, nearly exactly 30 hours after leaving Pennsylvania!
The best site of August! Gene’s ride arrives at the farm! Too bad it was 101F. Yikes!
The ponies were very easy to unload and they happily went into their new stall. I was impressed because the very first thing they did was take a big long drink. Why don’t big horses do this better?!
Babies getting a good long drink of water, likely glad that the floor under their feet is solid and not moving!
Boot City made a makeshift barrier to prevent the foals from touching noses with their neighbour (a very grumpy Coco). They will be as isolated as possible for at least 10 days to prevent them and my horses from sharing cooties. Nina will probably go to her permanent home later this week or weekend. I think it was a huge help for both foals to make the biggest part of their trip with a friend. Nina is quite a bit more apprehensive about humans than Gene so his presence has given her some confidence with all the new things. She will even eat out of a feed pan held by a scary person with him.
They also eat like champs! Jaguar is teaching them to nicker every time the barn door slides open in hopes of more food. It’s pretty cute.
They laid down to sleep a LOT in their first 24 hours in a stall. Most foals lay down to sleep more than adult horses and it speaks a lot to their development from feral foals to domesticated ponies that they felt comfortable enough to lay down almost immediately. We are SO excited for our journey with Gene! I’m so glad I’ll have a long weekend coming up to just hang out and get to know him. His co-owner was here for his arrival and i’m sure will be back again VERY soon!
And now, we nap under our fans.
Our story left off with our pony being purchased and a semblance of a plan was coming together to get him home to Texas. It has been nearly two weeks now and Gene is currently hanging out at Stoney Creek Chincoteagues with a few of his island buddies. We are so grateful to have connected with Tipson and Allison to care for Gene and give him some time to mature a bit and acclimate to life not on the islands with his Mom.
A lovely photo of Gene with his Mom (Lefty’s Checkmark) at the Carnival site in Chincoteague from photographer Nicole Menta.
While he’s in the care of Stoney Creek Chincoteagues he will learn to wear a halter, eat commercial feed, socialise with humans and (hopefully) be taught to be led or halter trained. Right now he lives in a stall with a few other Chincoteague foals and it appears he’s one of the bigger foals right now. Gene’s co-owner has done some research and it turns out that Gene’s dam and his sire are two of the taller ponies on the islands, which we are VERY excited about since I’m 5’8′ and his co-owner is a bit taller than me so hopefully we will both be able to ride him when he’s full grown.
Gene with one of his stall buddies.
I purchased the book Your Chincoteague Pony Foal’s First Year to help prepare for Gene’s arrival in Texas, which is projected to be at the very end of August or beginning of September. I’ve brought along plenty of foals, but wanted to be sure I was prepared for a feral pony foal who will undoubtedly have some different needs than a domestic horse foal. One of the primary things is that Gene will need some pelleted milk based feed for a couple months. Since he was weaned from his dam at only three months he will need a bit of extra milk nutrition. When he gets closer to six months old he’ll start getting a commercial foal feed and phase out the milk based pellets.
We also plan to keep him isolated from my other horses (and pony and donkey) for at least 14 days. He will only have had one round of vaccinations due to his age and he will have been exposed to some bacteria/viruses that my Texas equids haven’t been exposed to so this should assist everyone in staying healthy during Gene’s transition to Texas.
Gene in his stall yesterday with his same palomino buddy.
Last, but not least, we HAVE to tell you about Gene’s OFFICIAL registered name! Gene is registered with the Chincoteague Pedigree group as Ginuwine Lefty II. We have long been obsessed with the song “Pony” by Ginuwine. Now that we actually own a PONY and we got to name him ourselves, this was really inevitable! The rest of his name is derived from his dam (Lefty’s Checkmark) and his sire (Don Leonard Stud II). Had we gotten a filly, her barn name would have been Winnie, but since it’s a colt his barn name is Gene!
He’s SUCH a ham and he has some large ears. Hopefully he grows into those ears!
Boot City and I are prepping the barn and getting things together to prepare for Gene’s arrival. His trip from Pennsylvania to Texas should take 2-3 days and he will have a travel buddy and a roommate in Texas for a few days as another foal was purchased by an Oklahoma resident and will be making the trip west with him.
A few weeks ago Boot City and I were cooking dinner together and chatting about the things going on in our world right now. New LQ trailer. Lots (so much really) of fencing projects to do. A never-ending stream of cars for Boot City to fix. Not much fun travel in the near future. Somehow we go to talking about bucket list things. Boot City has a project car that we hope to take on a long road trip to stay at Blackberry Farm when it’s done. He’s got a super fancy motor for it and is going to have it repainted and put new seats and such in it. His bucket list is mostly wrapped up in that car. However, I’ve never been much of a “bucket list” person. I feel like wishing for more than I have is disingenuous and a bit selfish. But we all have things we’d love to have or do. So, during this conversation I mentioned that one of the very few things on my list would be to own a Chincoteague Pony.
I (oddly) didn’t read the Marguerite Henry books as a child, but I did have them all and I pretty well knew what the stories were about. I knew about the pony swim and the auction. I started listening to the Horses In The Morning (HITM) podcast a few years ago and every year they interview someone who is at the pony swim so I’ve learned more about it there every year. This winter Costco had a boxed set of the most popular Marguerite Henry books that I bought and started reading. Thus far I’ve read Misty of Chincoteague, King of the Wind, and Justin Morgan had a Horse and LOVED all of them!
This year, because of Coronapocolypse, the swim and associated events were canceled. The pony auction is a significant fundraiser for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company so the loss of the events could have been quite significant for the organisation. However, the pony auction was moved online for the first time ever this year! I briefly pulled up the website where the ponies were being sold after listening to the HITM podcast interview, but didn’t really think much of it at the time. Fast forward a few days and a friend and I got to chatting about the Chincoteague pony auction and an idea was sprung. This friend has two young daughters, one of whom has shown an interest in riding (I may have helped find and picked up a pony for said child earlier this year….). The friend grew up riding, much like I did and now has a lovely OTTB she rides for trail rides and does some jumping with. We thought it would be SO fun to buy a Chincoteague pony together! I could keep it until it was old enough to be trained to ride, then she would keep it for her girls to ride. When they grew out of the pony or for whatever reason the pony could come back to live with me.
We started stalking the auction page. Color. Parentage. Bids. We established a list of our favourites and we set ourselves a budget. The auction opened on July 23rd (my Mom’s birthday!) and concluded on July 30. We could tell fairly quickly which ponies on our list were going to be out of our budget before auction day and eliminated a few. Then came auction day. Prices started really going up on a lot of the more colourful ponies. Many more were struck off the list by midday. We texted and decided that if at least our two favorites were still within budget at noon, one of us would register to bid. I was working from home and checked the auction again in the late afternoon. The lots started closing around 3p my time. They were set to close in 3 minute increments, not all at once. We really liked the first pony, but my friend still hadn’t gotten a bidder number, so we missed that one. Then came our favourite, #12. Still no bidder number and he was above our budget. Another colt came up that looked like he might be in our budget, but alas no bidder number. We again had high hopes for Lot 24, but (again) no bidder number.
My friend finally got frustrated and called the auction company as their website said qualified bidders would get a number within an hour of registering on auction days and it had been nearly 2 hours. It turned out a tiny bit of contact information was wrong, they fixed it and she had the number! Just in time for #31! He was in the final 3 minutes of bidding and was below our budget. She texted and asked if she should bid. I texted back; “Yes!”. She placed our bid. 3 minutes to wait. The price stayed the same. 2 minutes. No change. Less than 1 minute. In fewer than 5 minutes we went from having a not having a bidder number to winning our pony!
Everyone, meet Ginuwine Lefty II!!!!
It was SO exciting! And then it became a bit overwhelming! We had bought a pony foal. A pony foal that was in Virginia! HOW were we going to get a pony foal from Virginia to Texas?! As it turns out, owning a Chincoteague Pony allows you into an exclusive group of horse/pony loving people who are the nicest and most helpful group of horse people I’ve ever encountered! So, over the course of the next few weeks, months and years I will be chronicling Gene’s journey from Virginia, to Pennsylvania (where he’s headed tomorrow) to Texas and beyond. On an upcoming post I’ll explain how he got his name. For now, just know his barn name is Gene.
Part of being in the CPOC (Chincoteague Pony Owner’s Club, I made that up myself) is getting connected to the photographer who goes to the island it seems like every day and documents the first sighting of the pony foals and makes those photos available to pony buyers. All the photos below are from DSC Photography and we are SO grateful to have them!
A quite young baby Gene. He was first seen on May 4, 2020.
Grazing with his Mom. It looks like so far all the foals from this mare have been solid chestnuts, like Gene.
Part of what we loved about him is his kind eye. He really reminds me a lot of Jaguar!
Gene walking on the beach with his Mom, Lefty’s Checkmark. I love the fog behind them.
Last, but not least, this one is our favorite of Gene!
Gene and his reflection in the water.
I’d love to hear if you own or have owned a Chincoteague Pony! Gene will start his journey to Texas at the end of August and I promise to provide updates! Please send him good thoughts that he makes all his trips safe and sound.